Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tricia Rose

First of all, I would like to say that Tricia Rose is pretty rad! I have read excerpts from two of her books within the art history program (really interesting connection, actually, to modern American art - especially when you're talking about cultural appropriation in all aspects of art and media) and enjoyed all that I read, even though I personally do not know much about or identify with any hip hop music whatsoever. I know of a few other scholars because of this particular background, but can't find the paper I wrote which used some articles that go along well with Rose's work.

Her mission seems to be informing people about the truth of hip hop - where it began, why it's important, what it's really saying, and how it's been stolen, appropriated, misconstrued, distorted, and why that's so. Talking about and understanding intersectionality is the key to her work, and she uses hip hop culture as a framework to teach us about intersectionality, and vice versa I think.

She says in the interview with Time that "there is an incredibly rich world of hip-hop that has been literally buried. I tell my friends and students, That's why they call it the underground — because it's in fact buried. But it's not dead; it's an underworld. It's like the Matrix, an alternative world that has its flaws but is part of a living force." Again, I know very little about the genre, but I feel this statement connects to the type of music I listen to in very same way. There's corporate rock, and shitty "punk rock" bands following certain trends to specifically appeal to one group (i.e.  middle class white kids under the age of 21), and it lacks the substance of bands that are playing underneath the mainstream surface. I think the same argument is made by Rose and others when it comes to hip hop and its commercialization since its inception.

For your viewing pleasure, the artist Kehinde Wiley does some absolutely amazing portraits of famous rappers and hip hop artists using famous Baroque and 19th century European works (typically those of Napoleon Bonaparte) as a backdrop. This is a great, informative link that discusses what he is doing here more in depth than I could really describe:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Queer Representation in the Media

The author of the "Queer Representation in Film and TV" states  that networks are willing to feature queer characters- so long as the shows are profitable and have high viewer ratings. I think that although shows like Will & Grace or Queer Eye for the Straight Guy becoming popular in the mainstream is a somewhat positive thing, these shows still grossly stereotype the queer community, so what good is it really doing? Not all gay men are wealthy and stylish, but that's what it takes for America to be okay with queer representation in a prime time slot, I guess. The author says networks are being cautious, where I would say they're just feeding into stereotypes or just plain old making them up as they go. The section on "Queer Representation in the Media" suggests that the queer community pushed back against this and there has been slightly wider representation since, but since I don't watch a lot of tv, I don't know how true that is, or how much better it has gotten. I would even venture that Queer Eye might be used in homophobic arguments, that gay men are trying to "turn" straight guys gay. Is that the case? NO, of course not, but look at popular shows aimed toward a similar demographic in a similar time slot: freaking Duck Dynasty. I do often wonder about who makes these shows - what is their identity and speaking location? I really liked the questions it asks of queer representation, as it reminds me of the Bechdel test we spoke of several weeks ago (I think many tv shows would fail, horribly).

In all of my excitement for seeing my favorite comic series turned into live action movies, I had never really thought about the film's plot also being a reference to queer representation and acceptance, nor did I know that the director (Bryan Singer) identified as queer! It makes me love the franchise even more!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Orenstein "Cinderella Ate My Daughter"


 I highly enjoyed this article, because not only did it play into my intense feelings that Disney is mostly bullshit, but because Orenstein's writing style is funny, accessible, and not densely theoretical (I needed a break from that!), and she points out things I have never even considered when it comes to the princess phenomenon.

1. “I had never seen a study proving that playing princess specifically damages girls’ self esteem or dampens other aspirations. There is, however, ample evidence that the more mainstream media girls consume, the more importance they place on being pretty and sexy. And a ream of studies shows that teenage girls and college students who hold conventional beliefs about femininity – especially those that emphasize beauty and pleasing behavior – are less ambitious and more likely to be depressed than their peers. They are also less likely to report that they enjoy sex or insist that their partners use condoms. None of that bodes well for Snow White’s long-term mental health.”
           None of this surprises me, but I think it's a good, succinct description of the downward spiral girls face today when it comes to the media. American media is directly built upon patriarchal demands that women either have no outward sexuality (but a private one which caters to the sexuality of men, no matter what), or if they do, that it must still exclusively cater to men. 

2. “Dressing up fancy, at least for now, was something she felt she got to do, not something she had to do. It was a source of power and privilege.”
            This was really interesting to me, as I haven't really ever thought of this princess phenomenon like this. I've always that it seemed negative, a way to keep girls in traditional gender roles and not much more. It's nice to see little girls might often feel this way about dressing as princesses and etc., but I wonder how long this idea really lasts - because it doesn't last, at least not entirely. I suppose I've heard some women my age comment that getting ready to go out is often the best part of going out (which, depending on where they go, is easily true, when I recall all the times I've been dragged to bars that are out of my normal routines and the near- fights I've been in with sexually aggressive men). But I do think there comes a point when little girls stop dressing up for fun, and it becomes more of an act. Of course it isn't the same for every girl, but I think perhaps teen girls face this struggle the most.

3. "The simplicity of American Girl is expensive, while the finery of princess comes cheap. In the end, though, the appeal to parents is the same: both lines tacitly promise to keep girls young and 'safe' from sexualization."
             I also hadn't considered that many parents recognize the dangers of Disney princess culture, but opt into it because they don't want their daughters to grow up too fast. At face value, I think maybe both lines do promote childhood free from sexualization, but when we go back to the first quote listed, it doesn't matter anyways - which is horrifying to think that the media has that much power over gender roles and sexuality.